Background Since SARS-CoV-2 is a highly contagious virus without an available disease-specific medication, the hope is focused on a sustained immunity after SARS-CoV-2 infection and a near-term successful vaccination therapy. A sufficient anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody production with neutralizing antibodies is crucial to prevent further viral spreading and for protection against prospective reinfection. Kidney transplant recipients may have a potentially aggravated risk for COVID-19 complications as well as a reduced vaccine response due to the allograft protecting immunosuppressive therapy. However, little is known about the strength and duration of their immunological response upon SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Case presentation Here we report on 4 kidney transplant recipients proven to have SARS-CoV-2 infection by positive PCR testing, focusing on their immunological response with the production of disease-specific neutralizing antibodies. All kidney transplant recipients developed a sufficient antibody response including specific neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 within 2 to 3 weeks after the first onset of symptoms that sustained during the follow-up of 15 weeks. After 6 weeks, the virus was eliminated in all patients. Most important, the serological response and viral shedding were achieved and sustained in the presence of immunosuppression. Acute kidney graft deterioration was common but reconstituted in all transplant recipients during follow-up.
Conclusions Immunocompromised kidney transplant recipients showed a functional serological response with disease-specific neutralizing antibodies upon SARS-CoV-2 infection, a basic prerequisite for a prospective successful vaccination response.